The Premier League are likely to conclude that any agreement Liverpool reach to sign Burnley’s Danny Ings in the next few weeks will not damage the integrity of the competition, despite the possibility of the 21-year-old lining up at Anfield on 4 March.
Burnley refused to sanction the player’s departure in the January window, as he is vital to their fight for top flight survival. But the Lancashire club were concerned that the England Under-21 international’s mindset would be adversely affected by continued uncertainty about his future.
Ings’ indifferent performance in the 2-0 defeat to Sunderland at the weekend is thought to have convinced manage Sean Dyche that the forward should be guaranteed a move which the player is thought to covet badly.
Such a deal between two clubs in the top flight is unusual. But it is likely to get the go–ahead from the Premier League under Rule U8 – by which the Premier League Board scrutinises the terms of the arrangement to ensure that it cannot create conflicts of interests. Though there are few precedents, the possibility of such a contract affecting Ings’ performance at Anfield are remote. If anything, he would be more motivated there, as Thibaut Courtois seemed to be when facing parent club Chelsea for Atletico Madrid in last season’s Champions League.
Manchester United were permitted to do the same when they agreed to sign defender Chris Smalling from Fulham in January 2010 and allowed him to stay at Craven Cottage until the following summer. Smalling did not face United before joining them
Rule U8 is designed to make such a future deal transparent – informing clubs and the Premier League Board that it is happening – though in effect, there is nothing to stop clubs informally agreeing a player’s transfer months before it takes place.
Burnley’s hand may also have been forced by the knowledge that Real Sociedad were also waiting in the wings to tie up a deal with Ings, who is out of contract net summer. The player’s sale to a club on the continent would have entitled Burnley to far less compensation for having developed the player: only £206,000 under the Fifa compensation system.
The move for Ings renders the prospect of Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli staying beyond the summer even less likely, with Liverpool willing to consider the £5m sale of Lambert to Aston Villa yesterday.
The player’s reluctance to give up on the dream return to his boyhood club is thought to have contributed to that move to Villa Park not happening last night.
Lambert staying optimises Brendan Rodgers’ options as he embarks on the tough task of retaining his club’s Champions League status. The club, who welcome back Steven Gerrard in the FA Cup fourth round replay at Bolton tomorrow, will be boosted by the agreement of a new long-term contract with Philippe Coutinho – two years after paying Inter Milan £8.5m for him.
Rodgers yesterday said that Coutinho was out of the same mould as Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and could become a “world-class player” by adding more goals to his armoury in the next two years
Modric, like Coutinho, lacks a substantial goal-scoring record but is still world class, Rodgers said. “He [too] is a continuity player, he takes the ball in the middle of the field, he can make the passes, serving the ball from behind and he gets the odd goal from outside the box.
“He is a top class player who can create the game and so important, opens the door for the team in the centre of midfield. [Real Madrid’s] Toni Kroos is another of that type of wonderful footballer – a great passer,” Rodgers continued.
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